Martin wins 2024 USBC Queens, becomes the youngest to win the event

Final Standings

Jillian Martin of Stow, Ohio, took the longest road to the 2024 United States Bowling Congress Queens win Tuesday night at The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Martin qualified as the No. 2 seed heading into match play, but was upset and sent to the Elimination Bracket with her back against the wall. That did not stop her from winning match after match, getting all the way to the final round and claiming the No. 3 seed on the stepladder show. All told, she bowled 42 games before the show even began.

It culminated in her becoming the youngest person to win the USBC Queens at 19 years old, defeating Hope Gramly of Aubrey, Texas, 267-220. 

“It means the world to me, just being able to go out here and show everyone that anything is possible, no matter your age and no matter who you are,” Martin said after her win. 

Her stepladder journey started with a match against the defending champion, Lindsay Boomershine of Brigham City, Utah, looking to be the first to defend the tiara in over 40 years, and riding the momentum of winning the opening match over Canada’s Felicia Wong, 193-154.

Boomershine made three great shots to start the match against Martin, but couldn’t get the 10 pin to fall all three times, while Martin had a spare and three strikes from the offset. A miss by Martin in the fifth frame opened the door for Boomershine to seize control of the match, but another 10 pin and a split kept Martin in the driver’s seat.

Martin ended the match first, going strike, nine, spare to close out with a 206, which meant Boomershine had to punch out for the tie. The 10 pin reared its head yet again, even after a ball change, ending Boomershine’s pursuit for her second Queens title as she bowed out with a 186. Boomershine earned $17,500 for her fourth-place finish.

Up next was Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey, who brought her many years of experience to the table, as Kulick won her first major before Martin was even born, setting up a match between the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour past and present versus the future of the tour.

For Kulick, the future looked to be here, as Martin rattled off four strikes in the first five frames while Kulick had two splits and was behind early. Martin kept the pressure up on Kulick, and an open in the ninth frame was but a blip for Martin, who struck all three shots in the 10th to fully shut out Kulick, 219-183. Kulick earned $22,500 for the third-place finish.

Martin was now only one win away from earning the $60,000 top prize and the tiara, with only Gramly standing in her way. Gramly earned the No. 1 seed after going 6-0 and averaging over 234 in match play and was looking to earn her first PWBA title and major. She was in a similar position as Martin two years ago at the 2022 USBC Queens, who qualified for the TV show as an amateur, placing fifth.

Martin came out strong yet again, starting with three strikes in the first five frames while Gramly was unable to string together strikes. Gramly rolled a turkey in frames five through seven and seemed to take advantage of a spare from Martin.

That would be the last time Martin didn’t strike. 

She went off the sheet for the final seven strikes and Gramly was unable to keep up, with the final score of 267-220 in Martin’s favor, becoming the youngest ever to win the USBC Queens. The previous youngest was PWBA and USBC Hall of Fame Wendy Macpherson, who won in 1988 at the age of 20.

Gramly earned $30,000 for her runner-up finish.

The stepladder finals started with Boomershine versus Wong, with Wong making her first national TV show appearance. Boomershine was able to stay in control of the match the entire way as Wong had a few miscues and defeat her 193-154. Wong earned $12,500 for her fifth-place finish.

Martin credits her mental game for being able to get to this point with her back against the wall in the Elimination Bracket and to end the week with the tiara after 45 total games. 

“It’s that much sweeter knowing how good I was able to keep my mindset through it all,” said Martin. “It shows the work I’ve put in on the mental side has paid off.”

This is only the beginning for Martin, who already had a PWBA win and is now a major champion.

“I hope everyone will see a lot more of me in the future.”

The PWBA heads to Smyrna, Tennessee, for the PWBA Classic Series – Nashville starting May 28.